Seven defendants — including former racehorse trainer Peter Easterby, trainer Sir Mark Prescott and the TV cook Clarissa Dickson Wright — are to be tried at Scarborough Magistrates Court next April for alleged illegal hare-coursing.

Miss Dickson Wright and Sir Mark are being prosecuted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), whereas charges against the other five defendants, including Mr Easterby, are being brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The charges are said to refer to two events at Helmsley and Malton in North Yorkshire on March 2 and 3.

All of the accused deny the allegations made against them.